Ms Emily Carroll (pictured, right) and Ms Nicole Kennedy (pictured, left) are studying the Bachelor of Paramedicine in the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Healthcare Sciences.
Emily is from Narara on the NSW Central Coast and Nicole is from Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, NSW.
They are part of a small group of students who took on the task of assisting Local Western Health District staff of NSW Health to vaccinate people at several clinics in Bathurst.
Emily said the opportunity to work in the vaccination clinics has enabled her to make a difference in the community by giving individuals the best possible chance of receiving the vaccine.
“I recognise how important this vaccine is in reducing the effects of the pandemic and am pleased that I can be involved in this process,” she said.
“Also, it’s been very satisfying to aid healthcare workers who have been significantly impacted by the pandemic and assist them to reduce the burden.”
Nicole agreed, saying, “It was an excellent opportunity to gain further experience in a health care setting and to improve communication skills and safe handling of needles and medications”.
The Charles Sturt vaccinators were required to be an active health care student (in their cases, active third-year paramedicine students) and complete one day of vaccination training with a registered nurse (RN) educator and the RN vaccinator manager.
They then worked shifts at Charles Sturt University Vaccination Hub, the Kelso Community Hub, and the mass walk-in clinic at the Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre (BMEC) in William Street.
They performed a range of roles at the clinics.
“I did administration tasks such as check-in before vaccination to ensure each individual’s details are correct and placed in the system, and administration for check-out to ensure the individual has booked for future appointments and is feeling well,” Emily said.
“I am able to observe patients after they have received the vaccination, provide medical assistance if adverse effects occur, and answer any questions and concerns of individuals.
“I’m also able to prepare and draw up the vaccines and administer vaccines via intramuscular injections.”
Depending on the clinic and appointments available at each location, the students helped to vaccinate approximately 200 individuals per day at the on-campus Charles Sturt Vaccination Hub and the Kelso Community Hub, and between 600 to 800 people per day at the mass walk-in clinic at BMEC.
Emily said she thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the experience, particularly providing after-care, including booking follow-up appointments and providing adverse event advice to individuals.
“This enables individuals to be reassured and aid them to come back to receive their future dose,” she said.
“I have also enjoyed interacting with individuals from all backgrounds and walks of life who are all doing their part to help the greater community.”
She said the experience has helped her prepare for her future health career.
“The documentation processes and obtaining information are similar to that of ambulance services, so having experience will greatly help me in the non-clinical aspects in the prehospital environment,” Emily said.
“Due to such high turnover of individuals and limited interaction time, this also simulates the prehospital environment, so I was able to develop a positive relationship and rapport with the patient in a short period.
“The clinical skill of intramuscular injection will also assist me in the future as paramedics often apply this skill.”
Nicole said she most enjoyed being able to work in the health setting with like-minded people and the ability to gain more experience, which will benefit her in her paramedic career.
“This experience has helped prepare me for my future health career, including things like being able to communicate with patients and learn about other health conditions which may be contraindicated for the vaccine or interfere with treatments,” she said.
After graduation, Emily hopes to be employed by an ambulance service in either Australia or the UK. Nicole has been offered and has accepted a paramedic job with London Ambulance Service, starting in February 2022.
They thank all the health services and employees who have been a part of the COVID-19 pandemic management and treatment.
Emily and Nicole also thank everyone for getting vaccinated to keep them, their families, and the community healthy and safe from COVID-19.